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My wife and I just got back from a 1700-mile road trip from our home in Northern California to do some trilobite hunting in Utah and Nevada. It was a 5-day trip, with a total of about 8 hours of digging spread across 2 days, but well worth it. I will give you the highlights here. After driving across California, we spent the first night in Reno, then headed out on Highway 50 toward the U-Dig fossil quarry out of Delta, Utah. We spent the second night in Ely, Nevada. Along the way, we stopped in Austin for lunch and helped the owner of a nearby trading post identify an unknown fish fossil they had for sale (you can read about that here). We got to U-Dig mid-morning of the third day and spent half a day there. The last 20 miles is a drive along a well-maintained dirt road (good enough that with my stock 4WD SUV I could drive 50-55 mph along most of it). Other people on this forum have posted about their experiences at U-Dig, so I won’t spend a lot of time repeating the basics. We were pleased with the support we got from Gene and if you’ve never been there, I would recommend it. This was my second time there (the first was 8 years ago), and my wife’s first time. I have to say we weren’t as successful as on my last visit, but still got a good haul. Most, however, were only molts or partials, we got very few full trilobites. I’ve included some photos below. Lots of prep work still remaining, and I’ll probably split several of the slabs again to see what else I might find. If you go, one word of advice. They will provide you with a chisel-edge rock hammer, a 2-lb sledge and large chisel, and a bucket to hold everything you find. I brought all my own stuff and am glad I did. They show you how to split the shale with the chisel edge of the hammer, but I found that to be a fairly coarse way to do it. I found it much easier to use thin rock-splitting chisels like these. They are cheap, so I’d recommend you take one or two along. The next day we headed out to Caliente, Nevada, to dig at the Oak Springs Trilobite Site just off Highway 93. There is no fee to dig here, which means there is no one to advise you, you’re on your own. This is another Cambrian site with the possibility of finding several species of Olenellus trilobites. We got there just after lunch and spent the afternoon there. The parking area is about a quarter mile from the highway down a good dirt road (but not a 50-mph road!). Most people park there and walk a quarter mile along a developed path to the dig. If you’ve done your homework, though, you’ll know you can continue another short distance and park just at the base of the swale where the trilobites are. That makes it an easy walk, especially if you are carrying a lot of tools. in addition to my tool bag, I was carrying a Harbor Freight pry bar and my brand new Estwing PaleoPick, so I was happy to shorten the walk. You can tell when you are at the site because it is littered with broken pieces of shale and there are potholes all around where people have been digging. We spent the first couple of hours without any luck as I moved from one location to another. Then I moved to yet another location and immediately saw a cephalon so I knew my luck was changing. It turned out to be a mini mother-lode of cephalons but no full trilobites, which apparently are very rare. While we found a few cephalons among the loose pieces of shale, I had much better success digging out larger slabs and splitting them. I haven’t yet gone through them in detail to make good identifications but they look primarily like Olenellus species, which are what you will predominantly find. Some sample photos below. Given that I didn’t have to pay to dig and it took considerable effort to find anything, I have to say this was the more enjoyable day of digging. But if you go, be aware that many people who go there don’t find anything. The day we were there I only saw one other person. (He tagged along with my success to dig nearby.) On the way home, we took Nevada Highway 375, known as “The Extraterrestrial Highway” because it runs close to the infamous Area 51. We stopped in the tiny hamlet of Rachel to visit the Little A’le’Inn, a souvenir shop, diner, and motel. If you get the chance, be sure to stop in. On my last U-Dig adventure I spent a night there, which was quite an experience (you can read about it here). I don’t think it has changed much in the last 8 years except there were more tourists there this time. Overall, we had a great time. Once I sort through everything I will post a few samples for help with identification. The sign along US Highway 6: U-Dig office: Steve digging (friendly dogs belong to another digger): The haul back at home: Elrathia kingii (I think it's a molt): Small Elrathia kingii: Peronopsis (needs more prep):
Hello Everyone! First off, I am excited to be part of this amazing forum! I am excited to be here and it is really cool to be part of a community where questions are open and people are so willing to help other out! I have never operated a forum before so this is a first for me and this is my first post in my first forum.... so needless to say I am a little excited! lol Please know that my writing style may change over time as I learn about writing in a forum and about posting my own work here on this forum. I am hopping to keep a relaxed, but professional forum running. I am hoping to also post at least once a week during the summer. Once I go back to school in the fall I hope to keep posting, but if it was like last semester, that may not be possible. I will post as much as I can though, that you have my guarantee! Last semester I took a paleobiology class here at the U of U. I throughly enjoyed it, I especially loved the invertebrate sections on cephalopod, arthropods, and the phylum echinodermata. I unfortunately only have a small selection of crinoid stems, so there is not much to post about there. I knew about ammonites (a cephalopod) and trilobites (an arthropod). I did not know much though. I new ammonites had a round shell that was coiled in on it's self and that was about it. I knew that trilobites got more complicated as they diversified and that they had 3 lobes, but that was it. Then I took the class and learned a whole lot about them! It was so much fun! What I learned about them is not the scope of this forum, if you want to know more about them I would recommend the text book we used. It is very good at explaining everything to inexperianced people (such as my self) and has lots of references for additional reading. The book is called "Bringing Fossils To Life An Introduction to Paleobiology" 3rd edition. It is quite a remarkable book. The fossils were collected in the House Range in Millard Country outside of Dugway Utah. I collected a few pounds of shale and it was quite full of trilobite fossils. The environment they lived in was a shallow marine environment. The matrix around the fossils is a beige color. I use a SE 979fSG Flexible Shaft Grinder, Chuck, Pedal, and Switch. You can pick one up from amazon for $70 or so. I also use steel saw blades for the Dremel tool and some steel brushes for it as well. I have other tools for the dremel but have not used them yet. I use these because I do not have access to any other tools for cutting stone. Please be safe while using this. I strongly recommend gloves, safety glasses, and a face mask to filter out dust, i would also recommend hearing protection. It can be loud at times. I also wear a white lab coat to keep dust off my and my cloths. For fossil identification I have been using a small guide to trilobites that my professor gave me. I looked on line for definitive trilobite's located in the Marjum Formation and was not successful. I do not claim to be a trilobite expert, and as such I may have made mistakes with their identification. If you feel I was wrong please feel free to let me know what you think they are! There are several samples that looked so much like they were Elrathia or Marjumia (these will be posted later) that I may have been wrong in my identification. All these fossils are from the Marjum formation and I found them so I know they are all real. So here are some pictures I took of them. If they are too small let me know and I will try to upload larger pictures. I have also labeled each so if people are talking about a specific one they can reference them exactly. B refers to bathyuriscis and the number corresponds to the order I took the pictures in. I will add other spices later and they will have a different letter abbreviation. I do have other bathyuriscus fossils pictures to post, I will add them later. Right now I just want to get started! B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7 B8 B9 B10 B11 B12 B13 B14 B15 B16 B17